2016 Season Review - Brad Keselowski

December 27, 2016

Brad Keselowski is the first to admit that his 2016 NASCAR Cup Series season wasn’t what he’d anticipated.

He’s also quick to point out that the season had some great moments – four victories, including the 100th NASCAR win of team owner Roger Penske’s illustrious career – and the good times only serve as motivation for 2017.

“I am inspired to work even harder to win another championship in 2017,” said Keselowski, who gave Penske his first Cup title in 2012. “I really want a second Cup championship to further validate my position and my legacy in this series.”

The season turned suddenly southward during the second round of the Chase, as 12 drivers were vying to make it to the round of eight. In successive races, Keselowski and the crew of Team Penske’s No. 2 Miller Lite/Alliance Truck Parts/Wurth/AutoTrader Ford Fusion suffered 38th-place finishes – one for a crash at Kansas Speedway, the other for a mechanical failure at Talladega.  

“For sure there were some frustrating times – most notably the second round of the Chase,” said Keselowski. “We were the only team to start the Chase with top-five finishes in each race of the first round. Then we just had terrible luck in the next round, even though we had speed. And there are certainly some tracks that continue to frustrate us, particularly Sonoma. But I feel I have one of the best teams in the garage. We had a great year on pit road. There is a lot to look forward to for next season.”

Among the most promising statistics aside from the four wins were 16 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s. In particular, the top-five number bodes well for the future – that’s a 44.4% average, a mark of consistency that hints at future championship runs for the No. 2 team.

“I think this was a great season of success for the No. 2 team,” said Keselowski. “We won four races and went into the season finale at Homestead with a chance to lead the series in wins. To me, I think that is the measure of a great season, winning the most races. Obviously, I think we needed a little more consistency. Two parts failures in the second round of the Chase saw our title chances come to an end, but I think we continued to show that we are one of the best teams in the garage.”

That show began early in the season with wins at Las Vegas and Talladega, then continued into the summer with the victory at Daytona, followed the next week with a win at Kentucky.

“Winning at Daytona was very special because I feel like I’ve been so snakebitten at that place,” he said. “I feel like I should have won several Cup Series or XFINITY Series races there in my career, and for various reasons they all fell short at the end. This time it was great to have a dominant car. We kept it out front and we gave Roger and Team Penske their 100th Cup Series win in our 50th year in motorsports. I’ll never forget that.”

Under the direction of crew chief Paul Wolfe, the crew of the No. 2 car was consistent and quick on their pit stops – a trademark of Team Penske crews – and worked closely as a team throughout the year. Keselowski took the time to reward his teammates with dinners and outings when time permitted during the season.

In addition to his work in the Cup Series, Keselowski also made 15 NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) starts in 2016 driving the No. 22 Discount Tire/REV Group/Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Mustang for Team Penske. The former NXS champ did not post a win in the series for the first time since 2008 but he did record five top-five and 12 top-10 finishes.

“We try to do several things together throughout the year,” said Keselowski.  “It’s hard to do it as much as I would like because of my appearance schedule or the garage closing late, but we do go to dinner or sporting events together. Teamwork is a big, big deal in this sport. The driver gets 95 percent of the credit for success and really he does about 10 percent of the work. So I want my crew members to know how much I appreciate their hard work.”

He also can’t wait to get back behind the wheel. The 2017 season opens Feb. 18 with The Clash at Daytona, and the Cup season officially kicks off with Feb. 26 with the Daytona 500. The driver of the famous Team Penske No. 2 is ready to go.

“We have an organization in Team Penske that I believe is set up for a great run,” said Keselowski. “In Miller Lite, Ford, Alliance Truck Parts, Wurth and AutoTrader, we have terrific partners that help us both on and off the track. The talent inside the walls of our facility is second to none. I’m ready to get back to the track.”